LONDON - British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday defended his attempts to sell Typhoon jets during a visit last week to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Oman, saying it was "vital" for British business.
Critics rebuked him for trying to sell warplanes to Saudi Arabia, attacking the country's human-rights record, but Cameron told guests at the Lord Mayor's Banquet in central London that Britain had "the most rigorous arms export licensing regime in the whole world.
"When Britain has a very strong defence industry, with 300,000 jobs depending on it, it's right that we should be at forefront of this market, supporting British jobs and British allies," he said.
"That's why last week, in the Gulf, I was pushing for new contracts for Typhoon jets worth billions of pounds and thousands of jobs," he added.
"That's vital new business for Britain. And I make no apology for going out there and trying to help win it."
Cameron also defended Britain's financial sector despite the chaos unleashed on the economy by the 2008 banking crisis, warning that "those who think the answer is just to trash the banks, would end up trashing Britain."
He vowed tough new regulations and called for "a regime where banks can fail without the need for taxpayers to bail them out."